Introduction to Baccarat
Baccarat is one of the most exciting games at land-based casinos and is considered a game popular among regular players as well as high rollers. The game has been immortalized through association with the legendary fictional superspy James Bond or 007. With the arrival of the online casino baccarat has spread its wings even further and is now accessible to millions of people from across the world.
The game is simple, though it may initially appear complicated, and is great fun to play. The game is played between the player and the banker and the objective is to build a hand closest to 9. You can bet on the player, the banker, or a tie.
This article recommends the best Baccarat casinos and bonuses, and introduces the rules of the game.
Top Baccarat Casinos and Bonuses
Below is a list of the best Baccarat casino for UK players. Note that not all online casinos allow baccarat to be played with their bonuses. We indicate the percentage of baccarat wagers that count towards the play through requirements of each bonus. 0% means you can still play baccarat at this casino, but not with the bonus.
Baccarat is considered one of the older casino games to be still in existence. While there are indications that it existed in France as far back as the 1490s, some say it has been around from even earlier. The name itself is French for the Italian-origin word 'baccara', which means zero, the value assigned to the 10-value cards. Here are some theories attributed to its origin:
- Created by Felix Falguierein, an Italian gambler, from some time in the Middle Ages.
- Existed as part of an ancient Etruscan ritual to the nine Gods, where a nine-faced dice was rolled by a virgin.
- King Charles VIII of France brought the game to France during the Franco-Italian war, giving legitimacy to the French and Italian connections.
The game was originally played by French nobility and later spread to other classes under the name of Chemin de Fer. It took wing from France to the rest of Europe, where it was rechristened European baccarat. From Europe it went to South America and then North America in the early 1910s. It was not very popular until the 1950s in the USA. The game became popular in the USA by the late 1950s. Today thanks to the online casino industry it is a popular game worldwide.
There are variants of the game to choose from. The American variant is called Punto Banco, while European baccarat is called Baccarat en Banque. In France and Spain it is still called Chemin de Fer. There are newer variants as well, including mini baccarat.
Basic Baccarat Rules - How to Play Baccarat
The game is played using 6 to 8 decks of cards.
The following are the card values:
- 2 to 9 carry their face value.
- 10, Jack, Queen and King are valued at 0.
- The Ace has a value of 1.
- There are 2 hands, one for the player and the other for the dealer.
- Each hand dealt has 2 cards.
- The card values are totaled to determine the hand value. In case of a two-digit value, the right-most digit becomes the hand value; e.g. if the total of the 2 cards is 15 the hand value becomes 5.
This is how you play the game of baccarat:
- Place your bets; you can bet on the player, banker or a tie. You can also bet on more than one option. There are also a range of side bets to choose from, which we will discuss later.
- Once the bets are placed, two cards are dealt each to you and the banker.
- If the sum of the first 2 cards is 8 or 9, no more cards are drawn. If the player's hand adds up to 5 or lesser another card is drawn.
- The bank has to stand on 6 and is required to draw if the total value of the original hand is 5 or lesser, unless the player's third card is 4, 5, 6 or 7.
- If the bank has a total hand value of 6 a third card is drawn unless the player's third card is 6 or 7.
- If the banker's hand value is 2 or less a third card again needs to be drawn.
- The bank has to draw a third card also if his total hand value is 3; however, this is not required if the player's third card is 8.
- If the total hand value of the banker is 4 a third card is required, unless the player's third card is 0, 1, 8 or 9.
- The hand with the higher value wins.
Baccarat Bet Types Explained
There are 3 different primary bets to choose from:
- Player bet
- Banker bet
This bet covers the possibility of the player winning the hand. The rules remain the same but the odds go down a little because of that one important factor - the house edge. Winning on a player bet gives you an even money (1:1) payout.
You place the Banker bet to cover the possibility of the banker winning the hand. This is one of the most favourable bets in baccarat in terms of the odds. It also has the lowest house edge among the 3 major bets, making it the most used of all bets. Casinos usually charge a 5% fee for betting on the banker. This fee is grounded on statistical data that shows the banker is likely to win 3 to 4 hands more than the player when the game is played with 8 decks.
Winning on a banker bet gives you an even money (1:1) payout.
The tie bet covers the possibility of the game being pushed because it ends in a tie. The odds of this happening are not all that great, which is why this bet has a house edge as high as 15%; that is why it is also referred to as a sucker bet. The payout is far higher on winning a tie bet, at 8:1 or 9:1. This high payout is also based on statistical data that shows a tie occurring only once every 11 hands on an average.
You can cover all 3 wagering possibilities as well; you will be paid out only for the winning bet.
There are also a range of side bets in baccarat. These include:
- Pairs: This side bet covers the possibility of the banker or player hand forming a pair. The different types of this side bet include:
- Banker Pair
- Player Pair
- Perfect Pair
- Either Pair
- Big/Small: This side bet covers on the total number of cards dealt in a hand.
- Small: You win if the total number of cards dealt is 4. This side bet has a 1.5:1 payout.
- Big: You win if the total number of cards dealt is 5 or 6. This side bet has a 0.54:1 payout.
- Dragon Bonus: This side bet allows you to bet on whose hand has the higher value. The amount paid out is determined by the difference in points between each hand. The highest payout with this side bet is 30:1 for a non-natural hand that wins by 9 points.
- Egalite: This side bet is placed on individual tie bets. Egalite bets do not pay out if the game does not end in a tie.
- Progressive jackpot side bet: This side bet has a progressive jackpot attached to it. The maximum amount in the progressive jackpot is triggered by landing a player hand with a suited Ace and 8, with a matching hand for the banker.
Basic Baccarat Strategy
Baccarat is a gambling game where strategy can help you reduce the frequency of losses. Theoretically, given that baccarat is a game between the player and the banker winning, the win ratio is 50:50 if you discount the tie; it can be discounted as it is a rare occurrence. A 50:50 win probability is more than what you get in many other casino games.
Of course, this being a game of chance, a foolproof winning strategy is almost impossible to find. There are strategy systems that people use to improve the chances of their winning at baccarat. Some of the commonly used strategies include:
- Martingale system: This is one of the most frequently used strategies in fixed odds games, and seems to work quite well for baccarat as well.
- D'Alembert System: Developed in the 18th century by Rond D'Alembert, a philosopher and mathematician, it is one of the older strategy systems and is used in baccarat as well. This system advocates an increase or decrease in bets based on whether you won or lost on each hand.
- Fibonacci System: Based on the Fibonacci number series created almost a millennium ago by Leo Piano, also known as Fibonacci, it is one of the oldest systems in use today.
As a beginner you would do well to hone your game and do the basics right; later you can work with some of the advanced systems mentioned above. The following are some of the basic aspects to take care of while playing baccarat:
- Manage your bankroll efficiently. The best way to play is to optimise your betting so that your bankroll sustains you for the longest possible time, and look to score wins in the interim.
- Never gamble on credit. One of the fundamental rules of gambling is never to wager with money that is not yours. That is dangerous ground and leaves you open to debt and addiction.
- Set a winning limit for yourself. This is necessary to develop a sense of discipline and learn when to walk away. This helps you leave when you are well ahead, and also to quit when you hit a losing streak.
Some Baccarat Tips
Baccarat is easy to play and simple to score wins. Here are a few tips to help you along when you play baccarat at your favourite online casino.
- Play with lesser card decks: The lesser the card decks the higher the chances of beating the banker's hand.
- Bet wisely: The house edge is the same for the banker and the player, at 1:1.The banker's hand has a higher probability of winning so learn to bet smart: you may score more wins betting on the banker than on the player.
- Bet judiciously on the tie: The tie is a rare occurrence and should not be bet on frequently. The returns are high, but in looking for the high return you may lose a lot of money, since this bet has a high house edge of almost 15%.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about baccarat.
Baccarat is a card game that uses multiple decks of cards. There are games with 8 decks and also with 6 decks. The number of decks is another factor, along with the house edge and the bets you place, impacting the odds of your winning. The lower the number of decks the better the chances of winning.
Baccarat is a game of chance in that the player does not have a say in the outcome of the card deal. It is purely random. The player may use some strategy to minimise his chances of losing. Therefore, you do not need too much skill to play this game. Of course, you have to know where to place your bet- on the player, the banker or the tie. You also need to know how much an optimum bet should be for a hand.
The casino may usually charge a commission of 5% on winning the banker bet. This is because the banker is likely to win 3 to 4 times more than the player over a period of time and has a lower house edge.
The tie is a rarity in baccarat, with the house edge going as high as 15:1. The probability of a tie is about 9.5%. So even though the payout is high for this tie at 8:1 or even 9:1, the odds of a tie happening are rare. The likelihood of scoring a win by betting on the player is approximately 44.6%, while the possibility of the banker losing is approximately 45.8%. In the long term, you would be better off betting on the banker or the player.